Local River wrestlers get started early

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 8, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

&uot;Shoot, pancake!&uot; hollers Nansemond River High School wrestling coach Gabe Rogers. Around the River mats, dozens of his future charges practice the move of taking away a takedown; as one wrestler leaps forward to grab his opponent’s legs, the other shifts his lower body away, wraps his arms around the leaper’s chest, and crushes (pancakes) him to the ground. From 6 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday, Rogers and his assistants help the group of youths figure out the basics of takedowns, half nelsons, fireman’s carries, and other wrestling moves.

But these kids aren’t the Warrior wrestlers; they should already know the basics of wrestling. Instead, they’re local elementary- and middle-schoolers, getting an advanced knowledge of the sport.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;We’ve got to catch up to the Chesapeake schools,&uot; Rogers says as the children roll around. &uot;A lot of them have youth programs that get kids started a lot earlier than mine. These kids know about football, baseball and soccer, but they don’t know about wrestling. It’s important to get them started at a young age.&uot;

Two of the youngest are the Murdoch brothers, Ian, 6, and Jim, 8. &uot;Our parents wouldn’t let us wrestle at home,&uot; says Jimmy, a student at Nansemond Parkway Elementary. &uot;But here, I found out that wrestling’s a lot of fun. I’m probably going to do it forever.&uot;

It might appear that Driver Elementary student Julian Burk already has; though only 11, the youngster has been wrestling for four years. &uot;I wrestled for a rec. league team over in Chicago for three years before I came here,&uot; Burk recalls. &uot;I knew a lot of moves, and I wanted to see if this was any different from Chicago. It isn’t, not really.&uot;

Several members of the River high school team pass their skills onto the younger matsters. Jonathan Cohen, Steve Wilson, Joe Schimming, Brent Christie and other wrestlers show up to coach.

&uot;These kids really want to learn,&uot; says Christie, who finished sixth in the Southeastern district in the 135-pound division last season. &uot;All the kids are really dedicated, and you have to have something to teach them.&uot;

It was Schimming’s success that got his cousin Daniel Coffman interested in the program. &uot;I came to see him at the matches, and it looked like he was having fun pinning people,&uot; says Coffman, 11. &uot;Pinning people’s fun because you get to win a lot. I’m going to wrestle when I get to Nansemond River.&uot;

Open to all Suffolk elementary and middle school students, the camp will continue until the next season starts in August, says Rogers. &uot;The goal is to go all summer long, until the tournaments begin,&uot; he says. Nansemond River is tentatively scheduled to host such a tournament.